I have written about this elsewhere, but feel compelled to join the conversation. I grew up in Buffalo; I was fourteen, gay, and frustrated. I was bullied, too, and it scares me how much this story is my own. The sad truth is that I was lucky. The truth is that people around this boy were complicit. This was allowed to happen, and it’s not going to stop until people start holding themselves accountable for the stupid prejudices that are passed on to their children, until people stop pretending that bullying isn’t a serious problem that kills, and until people take control of their own actions.
I promise, you know a child who is being bullied, and you know a child who is a bully. These are both conditions, and they are both in need of guidance, love and understanding. No one stops being a bully without being called on it, and no one survives without hope. Bullies are not jealous; they are convinced of their own superiority, and their right to be cruel. Victims are not just “picked on”, they are made to feel like they have no place in this world, and without some countervailing force, the result is this.
Changing laws won’t do a thing if individuals don’t step up and do their part. If you know a child who is being bullied, help them. If you know a child who is bullying, stop them. Explain the significance of actions, and don’t soften it with platitudes. Children are only ever as safe as we make them, and assuming that it is someone else’s problem will only ever make it worse. You are the only one who can decide to be a positive influence on a child’s life, and people need to know that they are directly responsible for the well-being of those around them. This is what it means to be a human being.
you should know three things:
FIRST: Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy who identified as bisexual, was a freshman at Williamsville North High School near Buffalo, NY. He tried to keep himself in good spirits, even releasing an “It Gets Better” video (which you can see here.) However, he was bullied to an extreme level, and on Saturday, September 17, 2011, he took his own life, overwhelmed by the hateful things that others had said to him.
SECOND: If you live in Western New York, there is a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Jamey THIS SUNDAY, September 25, 2011 at 8 PM. The vigil will begin on Allen Street, between Franklin and Main Streets, and will march to Marcella’s, at the corner of Main and West Tupper. If you can go, please do. Stand up to bullying in Buffalo and beyond.
THIRD: I found a petition online asking the Buffalo Sabres to make an “It Gets Better” video. In light of what has happened, I can’t think of a better time to sign it. Many young people look up to the players and try to emulate their actions, so the team releasing a video, especially in Jamey’s honour would do tremendous things. CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION, and then pass it on to your friends. It only takes about 30 seconds.
Finally, if you see bullying in action, you need to try and do something to stop it. As Mean Girls taught me, there are two kinds of evil people in the world: Those who do evil things, and those who see evil things being done and don’t do anything to stop them. Don’t be either, but especially don’t be the latter.
Let us remember the Jamey Rodemeyers, the Tyler Clementis, the Raymond Chases, and Seth Walshes of the world. Let us also remember those who are still struggling with bullying, that our generation may be the end to this horrible trend.
Sign the petition everyone!
This night is one that will go down in the history books and how each and every single one of us took to emails and twitter and facebook to urge not just our senator but all of them to make our wonderful state a better place for all to live in, it makes me proud to live in this city and state.
Let’s get a big group hug going on.
We stand together in love tonight New York.
You have not let down your district tonight on this historic night. We are prouder of you right now then we have ever been. You are on the right side of history.
Once again, thank you sir.
Pictures to follow when I get home